BCCI awaits for Supreme Court to hear board's appeal as it seeks to overcome challenges on multiple fronts

  • Vedam Jaishankar
  • July 23rd, 2020
  • 10:48:20 IST

How does the appointment of Hemang Amin as interim CEO of BCCI last week fly in the face of one-man, one-post clause as obligated by the Justice Lodha reforms?

Did it slip under the radar or did BCCI’s top brass believe there was no contravention at play when they appointed Amin, Chief Operating Officer of IPL Governing Council (GC), as the Board’s interim CEO, following the resignation of Rahul Johri?

An answer to this conundrum needs to be found, for, if the two-judge Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao – who was earlier part of the SC-appointed Mudgal Committee which inquired into charges of corruption in IPL – rules against Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah continuing as office-bearers, BCCI would have to swiftly fill the vacuum.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly with secretary Jay shah. @BCCI

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly with secretary Jay shah. @BCCI

The bench is expected to sit on 17 August, roughly 21 days after Ganguly’s term as president ends and he is forced into a three-year ‘cooling period’. The board Secretary Shah is already in his cooling period, though BCCI believes that the clause, as laid down by SC-approved Lodha reforms for BCCI governance, applies only with reference to contesting elections and not for carrying on as office-bearers. The bench is to rule on this.

A possible scenario has now arisen that if the court rules against Ganguly & Co, Brijesh Patel, chairman of the IPL Governing Council, could potentially be made interim president of BCCI as well, on the lines of Hemang Amin’s appointment. That is, unless there is a different set of rules for office-bearers and executives.

Roughly, the rules and regulations prevent individuals from holding more than one of 16 specifically mentioned posts. It includes administrator/office bearer, CEO & managers.

Thus if Amin, who could be classified as administrator, CEO and manager, is good to go for two posts, in IPL and BCCI, albeit in the interim period, it follows to reason that Patel too could be similarly utilised, if Ganguly is found ineligible to continue.

There is another key issue that has been brought to the court’s attention: that of CAG’s request for recusal from both Apex Council and IPL GC. The CAG, the country’s supreme audit institution, has stated that its representative was sitting in meetings deciding team selections, coaches, trainers, bilateral tours, multi-nation events, fixture of matches, cricket calendar, etc, which are not its field of expertise.

The CAG was expected to audit BCCI’s accounts. But if it is part of the Apex Council which sanctions payments and ratifies them, how can it later probe and audit accounts of these very decisions?

Its application to SC states that “it is relevant to submit that the CAG’s nominee in the Apex Council is just one of the nine members, and one of the seven members in the IPL Governing Council, and is therefore party to decisions, whether or not she/he is in agreement with those decisions.”

It requests the court that it (CAG) “may be considered for intervention in the affairs of the BCCI/State Cricket Associations only for the purpose of audit…”

There is another issue that needs to be quickly sorted out; that of the players’ body. Thus far their representatives seem to have talked only of enhancing players’ pension, medical insurance amounts, pension to ex-cricketers’ widows, etc. These have little to do with discharging Apex Council duties. Thus could the players' representatives instead be fitted in the cricket committee, where these issues could be discussed threadbare?

The concept of players representatives in the Apex Council was an off-take of the Cricket Australia (CA) model which was hailed as ideal for BCCI. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the CA model is not flawless and is therefore not something to emulate.

CA is almost broke after its investments in the stock market blew up in its face. This forced it to cut wages across the board, lay off dozens of staff besides seeking to place some of them in super markets jobs, etc.

If anything CA and a whole lot of other national boards are currently looking up to BCCI to rescue them from certain bankruptcy.

The truth is, BCCI and Indian cricket desperately need leadership to overcome the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are plenty of painful decisions to be made in the near future. Pay cuts, whether of staff, consultants, players, etc are inevitable. Additionally a number of domestic tournaments may have to be deferred or scrapped altogether. Entire domestic tournament schedules and formats have to be compressed and re-worked. Bilateral tours and series need to be renegotiated to attract maximum eye-balls and revenue. Legacy issues pertaining to Kochi Tuskers and Deccan Chargers also need to be sorted out. Many of these are tough, dark decisions and need the firmness of experienced, far-sighted leadership.

It is for this reason that the decision of the SC bench is so eagerly awaited.

Vedam Jaishankar is the author of Courage, Conviction, Controversy and Cricket which is to be launched across formats next month.

Updated Date: July 23, 2020 10:48:20 IST

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